When you know how, a lightweight tarp is one of the most versatile and handy bits of kit you can own. It’s lighter than a full tent, goes up faster when you’re caught in an unexpected downpour, and lets you sleep out in the wilderness.
Knowing how to pitch a tarp though is another story. Get it wrong and you'll be in for a tough nights sleep.
The biggest tip we can give you for pitching your tarp is practice, practice and practice! That way it won't matter what the weather's doing or where you are, you'll have a secure and cosy shelter up in no time.
Here's a handy list for some of our favourite ways to pitch your tarp...
Tie Fredd cord to one of the corner tie down loops.
Lie the tarp flat on the ground where you want it and peg out the other three corners.
Raise the fourth corner using your trekking pole, insert the pole tip into the rig point and tension by pegging out the Fredd cord that you tied on earlier. A longer pole (like the CarbonLong) gives you more headroom.
Pitch away from the wind for the best protection from the elements.
Home Prep - you can prepare your tarp at home by threading your line through any ridge risers you may have on your tarp. Attach a clipper to one end of the line and tie a prussik knot about halfway along the line with another clipper attached to it (There are plenty of videos online showing this knot). Now pack your tarp into a stuff-bag trying the leave the 2 clippers hanging out the top for a swift set up.
Find two trees that have enough room between them to pitch your tarp and choose what height you would like it. Run the clipper (without the prussik) around the first tree and clip it back through the ridgeline and attach it to the centre point of your tarp.
Now work your way along the ridgeline to the other end of your tarp, slide the prussik knot along the line so you have enough line to wrap it around the second tree and clip it into the centre point of this side of the tarp. Pull the prussik knot towards the tree to tighten.
Work the line around the trees to slide the tarp left or right to position it over your camp or hammock, then attach guys to each corner of your tarp and peg them out.
Peg down the long edge of your tarp.
Remove your front wheel.
Create a ridge line from corner to corner. Tie a length of cordage to the corner you wish to lift, secure it to the seat post / saddle of your bike and peg out. Your bike should be at approx 90º to this ridge line. The illustration below shows the setup from above.
Peg down the last corner making the tarp taught(ish)
Attach a long loop of cordage to 2 lifter points, wrap this around your wheel, pull tight and peg out.
(Note: this set up can be replicated with 2 walking poles in place of a bike)
Attach lengths of Fredd to the tarp at the leading corners and at the lifter tabs halfway along the sides. Loop around the top of your sticks and down to the sand.
Fill dry bags with sand and attach the Fredd cord.
Scoop out a hole in the sand and bury the bag. You could also bury a stick, this also works on snow.
Place your stuff bag over the top of the paddle.
Pull the drawcord tight around the paddle blade.
Attach a clipper to the end of the drawcord and clip on to any of the Rigs attachment points.
Peg out your paddle using Fredd and if you are on the beach or snow check out our earlier Top Tarp Tip - Buried Sand Bags.
You can Larks foot the stuff bag’s drawcord around the webbing loops that cover the tarp, eliminating the need for a Clipper.
Pass a piece of cord through an attachment point.
Tie a big double overhand knot in the cord.
Trap the cord in your vehicle door.
If you have a set of F171 walking poles use these in the opposite corners to prop the tarp up.
***WARNING*** - Leaving this set up over a long period in bad weather can cause water to seep along the cord and ‘drip’ into your vehicle.
Got a favourite tarp configuration that we’ve missed? Send us your photos!